1 How is the local economy?
Each December, we do a regional and national business survey. For 2017, employers felt optimistic about the economy, business and expected to continue hiring for growth. We have seen this forecast coming true so far in 2017.
2 Are small businesses satisfied with the Affordable Care Act? Do they want to see change? Why or why not?
Small to mid-sized businesses face a tremendous challenge with health care. Many need to offer health insurance to be competitive for top talent; however, they have no control over the cost side of the equation. They are caught in the middle.
Their frustration with the ACA is really born out of this challenge and wanting to provide benefits to their employees while keeping their businesses viable. It is very difficult to do and made more so by the uncertainty of the ACA.
3 Outside of health care, what is a big human resources concern for small businesses?
The two biggest challenges we see are the difficulty hiring at all levels but particularly with skilled positions. We are at very high employment levels, so they have to work harder to find people that will be able to do the work and to keep them.
The second issue we see is the changing workforce, which leads to succession challenges in both roles as well as knowledge of internal practices and the need to prepare and train the upcoming managers and leaders.
4 What is one low-cost, low-maintenance benefit that small businesses can do for employees that also has a high impact?
We do many engagement surveys and the two low-cost items that constantly come up are more communication from management and recognition at both a group and individual level.
As an example, simple things like CEO brown bag lunch sessions or manager walk-throughs are identified as very important for employees’ morale and connection. Recognition also ties very closely to coaching versus managing, which is another big trend.
5 What is the best career advice that you have ever received?
Find a job where you wake up every day excited to do it. The most successful people are those that love what they do and have passion.
I would also add a new focus of mine is “service leadership.” I want to serve my clients and provide them the help they need so that I am always bringing them value throughout our relationship. This resonates on so many levels and always provides a positive impact.
Editor’s note: Appearing periodically, 5 Questions With spotlights a professional’s take on the economy and an industry. If you have a suggestion for a subject for this feature, please email Bill Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.